Ohio v. Clark

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: June 18, 2015
  • Case #: 13–1352
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Alito, J., Roberts, CJ., Kennedy J., Breyer J., Sotomayor, J., Kagan J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Introduction of statements by child's teacher regarding an allegation of child abuse do not violate the Confrontation Clause when the primary purpose is not prosecution.

Respondent was convicted of child abuse. At trial, the court allowed testimony by the victim’s preschool teacher of the victim identifying Respondent as the abuser. Respondent moved to exclude the statements as a violation his constitutional rights under the Confrontation Clause. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed and determined that the statements made to the preschool teacher were testimonial because they served the purpose of being used in prosecution.

The United States Supreme Court found the statements not to be testimonial. The Court stated that the definition of “testimony” is influenced by the primary purpose of the interrogation, relevant circumstances, and the formality of the questioning. Statements given in light of an ongoing emergency are not statements intended to replace testimony at trial.

The Court declined to form a categorical rule regarding statements to persons who are not members of law enforcement, but considered them less likely to be made for the basis of prosecution. Also taking into consideration the child’s age and the unlikelihood that the child understood the judicial system, the Court felt there was no indication the statements were given for the primary purpose of prosecuting Respondent. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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